Guisborough clinch derby and third spot!
Guisborough retained third spot after victory over local rivals Marske United in their last outing of the season.
By Bill Perfitt
Guisborough Town finished with a fine flourish on Friday night as they brought the curtain down on an unbelievably eventful season to finish third and complete a memorable league and cup ‘treble’ over their arch rivals Marske United.
For both sides it was their THIRD game of the week of a prolonged and physically punishing season but you would never have known that as they served up a high-tempo and unrelentingly competitive match which was a huge credit to every single player.
The thoroughly deserved three points earned by Guisborough clinched third place in the league table behind Marske who finished runners-up and Shildon the worthy league winners.
It is interesting to note that Guisborough’s record this season against the top two above them is a win, a draw and a narrow defeat against Shildon – so even Stephens there against the Champions – and three straight wins against Marske.
Those statistics alone reveal the full extent of the tremendously successful season the Priorymen have achieved against all manner of difficult challenges, and not just the atrocious weather which forced Guisborough into having to complete 11 games in the last 23 days alone - a truly Herculean effort by Town’s wonderful squad of players.
Apart from the players who deserve the highest praise possible – massive credit must go to Guisborough’s magnificent managerial duo of Steve Dowling and Dave Markham, who took over the reins following the departure of the much-loved Chis ‘Chardy’ Hardy to Whitby mid-way through the season at the end of last November.
Chardy would be a hard act to follow in any circumstances but under the new leadership ‘Dowlo’ and ‘Davey’ there has been a seamless continuation of the same brand of passing and fluent football that has earned Guisborough richly-deserved praise throughout the league.
With a modicum and extra luck and ‘rub of the green’ Guisborough could easily have finished runners-up this season and would have had a great chance of winning silverware in the Northern League Cup but for that memorable semi-final victory over Shildon being rescinded in such frustrating circumstances.
Guisborough tore into their derby rivals on Friday night from the moment the whistle went and within just seven minutes Marske were already reeling from a two-goal deficit.
Young Guisborough striker Connor Smith capped what for him has been a superb season with another wonderful goal in the fourth minute, yet again showing the persistence and pace that has earned him 22 goals over the campaign, many of them for the subs’ bench.
And just three minutes later the Smith’s strike partner Danny Earl – who has been in devastating scoring form throughout the season – bagged his 41st goal of the campaign with a typically telling trademark burst into the box and a clinical finish to make it 2-0 and the ‘old enemy’ Marske didn’t know what had hit them!
In the 18th minute Guisborough goalkeeper Nick Liversedge pulled off the kind of brilliant save he has been making ‘almost for fun’ all season when he acrobatically tipped over a stinging shot from Marske’s Jamie Owens to preserve Town’s two-goal lead.
But he could do nothing to prevent Marske pulling a goal back four minutes before half-time with a freakish goal when Seasiders’ full back Josh Myers made a full-blooded challenge for a 50-50 ball and the ball absolutely flew off his foot from fully 45 yards and dipped at the last second into the top corner of Guisborough’s net.
It was a lifeline Marske scarcely deserved after Guisborough had almost completely dominated the first half with some fast, fluent and penetrating attacking play.
In the 53rd minute Danny Earl almost restored Guisborough’s two-goal cushion with a powerful strike that produced an excellent save from Marske keeper Robert Dean.
But 18 minutes later in the 71st minute Earl and Smith linked up brilliantly once again with the former finishing off superbly to chalk up his 42nd goal of the season and restore Guisborough two-goal lead at 3-1 – and that’s how it stayed to the end to earn Guisborough their third win of the season over their neighbours.
Guisborough manager Steve Dowling was understandably delighted with the result and performance, particularly coming just two days after the tired Priorymen had lost 2-0 at Morpeth.
“I thought we played some really good football against Marske and built up an early two goal lead with excellent goals from Connor Smith and Danny Earl, who once again caused the Marske defence all kinds of problems,” said Dowling.
“We created a number of chances with Curt Round and Pete Bulmer in wide areas linking up well with our full backs Paul Roddam and Danny McWilliams.
“Our midfield duo of Ste Snaith and Chay Liddle dominated the central areas of the pitch and with Jordan Galloway and Andy May solid in defence Nick in goal had little to do until a freak clearance somehow ended up in our net from over 40 yards out.
“In the second half Marske created a more opportunities but our counter-attacks caused major problems for the Marske defence and only a couple of excellent saves from the visiting keeper kept the scoreline down.
“However, we got a well-deserved third goal after good work from Smith set Earl up to score his second. The were some very good performances throughout the team tonight with Liddle, Snaith, Smith and Round all enjoying very good games but Danny Earl was the pick of the bunch as man of the match for me - not just for his goals but his hard running and all-round excellent movement,” added Dowling.
The final result against Marske atoned for a disappointing defeat at Morpeth two days earlier after which Dowling commented: “We failed to control that game from the start and Morpeth looked dangerous on a number of occasions. I actually thought we were lucky to get to the interval only two goals down.
“Following a change of formation we completely controlled the second half and were unlucky not to get back into the game as we created quite a few chances and Nick in goal had very little to do.
“Once again it's hard to be critical of my players as we have played so many games in such a short space of time. I chose Jonny Helm as my man of the match as he showed a great desire throughout the game and was key to our much-improved second half performance,” added Dowling.
Photos courtesy of Yvonne Barker